SAFE Program to Benefit Gallatin Women in Financial Crisis
Gallatin County women have a chance to build a more secure future for their families through an innovative new project called SAFE, Securing Access to Financial Education. SAFE provides a free comprehensive financial education class for women in financial crisis to learn about budgeting, credit and saving for the future. SAFE has two unique features: participants receive a matched savings account in which savings are matched dollar for dollar, up to $250, for a total of $500 in savings. SAFE participants also receive a $300 line of credit for emergencies.
The SAFE Project is a partnership of the Women’s Foundation of Montana, Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (MCUCD), Rural Dynamics Inc., Rocky Mountain Credit Union and Sky Federal Credit Union. The Women’s Foundation of Montana, with funding from the Doll Family Foundation, coordinated the project and will provide the funds for the matched savings program. Rural Dynamics Inc. provides the financial literacy classes. Montana Credit Unions for Community Development, with members Rocky Mountain Credit Union and Sky Federal Credit Union, is providing participants with access to a line of credit and a matched savings account.
Funding from the Doll Family Foundation allows for 28 women to participate in the program. If SAFE is successful, the Women’s Foundation may seek additional funding to expand the program to other communities in Montana. “I'm thrilled by this program,” said Jen Euell, Program Director of the Women’s Foundation of Montana. “It will be of great benefit to many women in Bozeman in need. This project gives us the opportunity to really test out some different techniques for increasing women’s economic self-sufficiency and find out what works for Montana women.”
“The SAFE Loan Project is the perfect follow-up for our great success in helping to pass the I-164 Initiative to cap the rate on payday loans in Montana,“ said Sheila Rice, Women’s Foundation of Montana Board Chair. “This project allows us to help meet the need that payday loans used to fill for Montana women in crisis by providing quick access to cash. However, this program provides the added benefits of financial education and the building of good credit to prevent the same situation from coming up for Montana women down the road.”
“We are excited to be part of the SAFE project. Offering women and families an opportunity to access short term capital while building for their future is critical to help stabilize someone going through a temporary crisis,” said Tom Jacobson, CEO of Rural Dynamics, Inc. “We commend the credit unions for taking a lead role in short term loan products and will do our part to help individuals and families access the financial advising and education they need to thrive.”